We are heartbroken to share the news that Peter Dovak, a self-described “Graphic Designer and Professional Transit Nerd” who created many amazing transit maps and graphics including the GGWash “G” logo, died on November 16 of a pulmonary embolism.
Peter grew up in Kentucky and graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2009. He moved to Arlington in 2011 and has been working for the Northeast Maglev, the consortium trying to get a high-speed maglev (magnetic levitation) train built between DC and New York.
More details about his death were not immediately available and Peter was a private person. But he was very public with his astounding design work, which included Metro map variations of many kinds for us, other regional transit diagrams, posters of transit vehicles, and the logos for Greater Greater Washington and DC Sustainable Transportation. Therefore, we'd like to honor Peter with a sample of his fantastic work.
Peter created our “G” logo, which cleverly uses a transit-like stroke, the idea of two “G"s, and an embedded DC outline while also signifying that our coverage sweeps outside the District as well. Peter also designed some great business cards for us.
We were so happy with the “G” logo that when we had some funding to create a logo for DC Sustainable Transportation, we hired Peter to design it. Not only did he come up with a great one, but he hit on a very clever idea of making individual icons for each mode of transportation. We build the DCST website around that concept, so each issue page, blog post, or letter uses the appropriate mode icon.
Afterward, Peter told me he was hoping to expand his freelance business, and asked for a testimonial, which I happily provided. I wrote, among other things, “His creations had enough similarity with transit iconography to evoke things like transit wayfinding signs without being stuffy or boring. We're very happy with what he was able to create!”
Maps and visualizations
Peter was always happy to whip up a fun variation on the Metro map. Most recently, he made one for Halloween based on “spooky” names the contributors brainstormed:
When WMATA considered selling station naming rights, he put our ideas for ridiculous corporatized names, like “Swarovski Crystal City” and “Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheaton,” into a map:
Not all the maps are jokes! Peter helped us think about whether the Purple Line would go on the Metro map ...
... understand how full Metro parking lots get ...
... visualize how much different parts of DC were projected to grow ...
... imagine a comprehensive Bus Rapid Transit network for Montgomery County ...
... comprehend the extensive commuter bus network around Washington ...
... see the difference between the diagrammatic Metro map and what it would be like it if were to scale ...
... and so much more.
David Whitehead, our Housing Program Organizer, said, “Peter was one of the first GGWash contributors I met before I even started this job — we talked at the GGWash birthday party before my day 1. He also created all sorts of on the spot graphics and maps for the 59 bus campaign. The maps in particular were incredibly powerful in our advocacy — we would not have been as successful without his work.”
Maps like the above were helpful in pushing Advisory Neighborhood Commissions like 1B to sign on to the 59 bus campaign. Ultimately, in addition to those here, 1B, 1C, and 4B all joined. Peter regularly updated his map as new ANCs came on board.
A transit nerd through and through, Peter painstakingly illustrated every single type of transit vehicle in the Washington region for a detailed guide to Metrobuses and an amazing poster of every bus and rail vehicle including commuter buses, MARC and VRE trains, streetcars, and much more. He made similar posters for a total of 30(!) cities.
Never fear, avgeeks — Peter made posters of airplane liveries, too.
You can (still) buy posters and mugs of his transit vehicle diagrams and many other creations of his from his website.
For his day job with Northeast Maglev, Peter created technical diagrams to try to explain the technology simply and clearly.
Kisha Brown, the Director of External Affairs for Northeast Maglev, wrote in an email, “Peter was the go-to guy for everyone on our team when it came to a range of issues. His keen eye for terrific design was matched by his technical acumen. Peter approached every project with calmness and professionalism. No matter how daunting the task, once Peter was on it, everyone could rest assured that it would get done fast and get done right.”
Peter knew many transit supporters are skeptical of the maglev effort, but wanted to try to help it succeed, even if it's a long shot, because it would be so transformational. And, he said to the contributors in one internal email discussion, “as you all undoubtedly know, it's really hard to build anything in this country.”
If it does get built, I'd like to see it called the Dovak Express.
We'll miss seeing Peter at GGWash events, and the region (and our site) will be diminished without the benefit of his presence and his amazing work.